which now runs so rampant it makes British top shelves look positively coy, was making a ﬁrst appearance on newspaper stalls. Other things were slower to change: women, for example , were rarely encouraged to take an interest in anything outside the home — certainly they were not expected to talk about politics.
Six years on, and particularly in the big cities, attitudes have changed profoundly. The ancient pillars of society, family and church are crumbling in the same way they once did in Northern Europe. Young people - although still more likely to live at home than their British counterparts - travel more, marry older and have smaller families. Perhaps their shared history of repression has also done more to unite the genders — male and female students take equal part in demonstrations against sexual violence or military service. This is not to say that all young Spaniards are idealists. In 1989, a fellow student at Madrid’s vast Complutense University (100,000 students) complained to me that many of the women were just there ‘to warm seats. Their fathers send them here to look for husbands’.
Drug addiction is now a serious problem. Recently in Madrid, where you often see heroin addicts shooting up in the street, opposition MPs have angrily accused the government of foolhardiness in the legalisation of cannabis, and it seems that smoking the drug, in public at least, will once again be banned. Against all this, the
Male and lemale students take equal part in demonstrations against sexual violence or military service.
police maintain an ever-quieter, but still menacing presence. A black, Spanish friend of mine was regularly intimidated by the police, who assumed that she was a drug-touting immigrant.
Set aside one or two hang-overs of the ancien régime— the hellish bureaucracy, a certain lingering small-mindedness — and it has to be admitted that Spain, more than any other European country, has managed to get the best of both worlds. Culturally, its traditional, regional fiestas and habit of squeezing as many public holidays as possible into the year, make it one of the world’s most agreeable places to live. Economically, it goes from strength to strength. Spain has always had brilliant writers, artists and filmmakers living in exile (Picasso, Bunuel and Goytisolo, for example). Now a new generation, people like Pedro Almodévar, writer Maruja Torres and various artists, are selling us a new Spain. The country has created a very seductive, modern and marketable persona for itself. What is so remarkable is that it has all happened in less than twenty years.
g."' ' ' ."';3“" ' .
Art and the avant-garde
As it the dark Gothic alleys and labyrinthine network oi narrow streets opening up onto the magniiicent plazas of Barcelona were not enough, the lively Catalonlan capital hosts the work of some oi Europe's most distinctive artists and architects. How any civic authority ever had the foresight to welcome the dreamlike, organic stone lantasies oi Antoni Gaudi onto the city’s streets, when even now they seem futuristic, is beyond me. Yet wander along the urban roads a couple oi tube stops out irom the centre and discover buildings of startling originality by Gaudi, Domenech i Montaner and Pulg l Cadaialch, tucked away between the solid, it less remarkable, buildings oi the 1860: ‘Eixample’ development around the Passeig de Gracia.
Gaudi’s great unlinlshed masterpiece, the Temple de la Sagrada
‘ THE SPAIN EVENT: GUIDE
ra in Barcelona
5 Familia, is a iamiiiar ieature on the tourist’s itinerary, but completists will
; want to check out his Guell Park and his Palau Guell (now a theatre museum) beiore being satisiied. And that’s just a a start; you've then got the choice
-‘ between museums dedicated to
Picasso and to Miro, or even, it you have time ior the two-and-a-hali-hour train journey, to Salvador Dali at
This might be manageable, it it wasn't for the iact that Barcelona can ably keep you amused ior days with very little eiiort on your behaii. An idle walk down Las Hamblas, the wide, pedestrian-friendly central street, with its ilower stalls, magazine shacks and pet sellers, could easily take up three or tour hours allowing ior diversions into the bars and markets en route, and then you'll want to walk it again to see how it changes at night. Small wonder that the city has attracted such great artistic talents as Garcia Marquez and Vargos Llosa who established themselves in the 60s, as well as the new wave oi writers who are making inroads today. (Mark Fisher)
Having a good time in Madrid takes planning: it is neither as avant-garde as Barcelona, as sensually evocative as Seville, nor as immediately
2 beautiful as either. Still, it is a city unique for its blend of sophistication and dusty charm, and for its sense of humour. You’ll recognise it from Almodévar’s films: this is the kind of place you see an old lady giving a transvestite a ride on the back of a moped, or a prostitute crossing herself before she goes into a brothel for the evening shift (I have seen both these things). Arch-rival Barcelona may be more stylish. Madrid has a better rhythm.
If you are spending a few days there, start with the art galleries: El Prado houses the country’s national collection and Picasso’s incredible Guernica, and the Museo de Arte
Contemporaneo. near the
University, has a good — not brilliant — modern collection. Madrid is also remarkable for its beautiful cafes. Famous writers and artists did, and still do, discuss their ideas over a cafe con leche in places like El Gran Cafe Gijon (Cibeles) and El Café Central (Plaza de Bilbao), the meeting place of Lorca, Bunuel and Dali.
The city’s main park, El Retiro, is a good place to visit on a Sunday, when you can sit at one of the terraced cafes overlooking the lake and drink Manzanilla (very dry sherry) with a few choice tapas. Sunday, too, is the day for El Rastro: apparently the biggest ﬂeamarket in Europe, you can buy everything
I Expo 92 Beginning Monday 20 April 1992 and running until October, Seville’s Universal Exhibition welcomes companies and performers from over 100 countries to the 500,000 square metre Catuja site on the River Guadalquivir. Each country has a themed pavilion - the French contribution is to be made from spage-age materials, while Switzerland is constructing a huge tower made of paper — and there will be everything from demonstrations of state-of-the-art cinema techniques to a re-creation of life in pre-Columbian America. Meanwhile there is busy itinerary of opera, drama,
75 The List 22 November— 5 December 1991
dance, rock, jazz and zarzuela (Spanish operctta) with appearances from Luciano Pavarotti. Nuria Espert. Dario Fo, Dustin Hoffman, Laurie Anderson, Tom Waits and many more. Adult prices are around £20 for an all~day pass or around £5 for an evening pass. I 25th Olympics Sat 25 July-Sun 9 Aug. Taking place at 38 sites around Barcelona, 1992‘s Summer Olympics boasts 28 competitive events plus demonstrations of Roller Hockey and Pelota. The main arena is at Montjuic and there are also centres in the city itself at Diagonal, Vall D‘Hebron and the Olympic Village at Parc de Mar. Barcelona is using its status as Olympic City to promote
a ‘Cultural Olympiad‘ - an ambitious programme of events stretching over five years, reaching its height in the spring and summer of 1992. There will be major exhibitions of contemporary and mcdiaeval art, as well as dance, theatre and popular music performances, with a particular emphasis on Catalonian culture. lfyou can‘t make it over for the Olympics. try to be there for St John’s Eve.Tuc 23—Wed 24 June, when, true to tradition, hundreds of bonfires will be lit in the squares and streets of Barcelona and throughout Catalonia to celebrate the beginning of summer. More details from Travel Agents.
I European City oi Culture By all reports, Madrid is
planning to play the role of Cultural Capital with the same enthusiasm that characterised Glasgow‘s reign and that seems to have been absent from a relatively impoverished Dublin this year. As was the case with Glasgow in 1989. speciﬁc details of events to come are hard to come by, but there is an industrious building and renovation programme underway, so someone is making decisions somewhere.
I Flight: Contact student travel specialists, Campus Travel, at The Hub, Hillhead Street, Glasgow (041 357 0608) or Campus Travel, 5 Nicolson Square, Edinburgh (031 668 3303) and Edinburgh Travel Centre (031 668 2162).
if. \f I t.